Children and Friendship Drama – Should Parents Get Involved?

It’s back-to-school time with children returning to school.  There will be old friends for them to laugh and talk with and new friendships to build.  Of course, there will be times when there are squabbles.  What do you as a parent do when your child comes to you with a complaint?  You likely remember the times when you were a child and what happened to you.  Perhaps you have upsetting memories of quarrels that you do not want your child to experience.  Some expert advice can help you now that you are a parent to handle these squabbles.

Many experts agree that instead of going immediately to the other child’s parents to lodge a complaint, there are several other actions that you can take.   First, listen to what your child has to say.  Ask questions.  Be empathetic to what your child has experienced. Try to get the full account of what happened.

Second, encourage your child to standup for herself.  After finding out what happened, ask your child “Did you stand up for yourself?”  This does not involve your child saying anything that is rude or derogatory but does involve her not putting up with someone else’s bad behavior.  Try role-playing with your child so that she can learn how to react and respond differently in the future.  You should not be the one fighting your children’s battles for them unless it is necessary.

Third, help your children learn the differences between healthy and unhealthy friendships.  Ture friendships are built on trust and respect.  When a “friend” crosses the line, your child should know what to do. 

Fourth and perhaps most important, be there for your children to talk to.  Let them know that you are always available to talk and help them understand what has happened and not be judgmental.

For more information, please visit these websites below:

Should You Take Your Child’s Friend on Vacation?

The summer months are quickly approaching.  What are your family’s summer vacation plans?  Often, parents with an only child consider bringing along their child’s friend.  Please don’t make this decision in haste or just because your child begs you to.  There is a lot to consider and here are a few helpful suggestions.

Who will pay the costs?  This is a very important issue that needs to be addressed with the other parents.  Gather all your information first – such as transportation costs, hotel costs, approximate cost for food, costs for renting equipment (such as swim or snorkel gear), costs for admission to various theme parks and movie theaters, etc.   You might initially think that there would not be much extra cost, but once you sit down and plan it out, the high cost may surprise you.  In the end, you may just decide to bear the entire cost for the friend to make this a more enjoyable vacation for your child. 

What will you do for discipline? Since your form of discipline for your child may not be what the other parents approve of, this is also a critical topic to discuss.  There should be clear guidelines established beforehand.  But, even prior to your discussions with them, how well do you know the child?  Is the child one who is well-behaved and respectful when in your company?  Is this friendship one that you as a parent would like to encourage?  As Christians, we should always be mindful of who our children are friends with and who can influence them.  1 Corinthians 15:33 states “Bad company ruins good morals.” (ESV).

What will you do in the event medical care is needed? Again, this needs to be planned out.  In the event of a medical emergency, you will need to have the authority to obtain and provide medical care for this child.  Make sure you have the legal authority to do so.   Often, a copy of the child’s health insurance card and a letter from the parents is enough. 

When I was growing up, I went on many trips with my best friend as she was an only child.  We all had a lot of fun, parents included.  But, that all stemmed from them knowing me and my parents well, as well as me knowing them well.  I felt comfortable being with them and was not a discipline problem.  It all worked out wonderfully! 

Parents Should Monitor the Music Their Children Listen To

I saw this statement on the internet as I was researching the theme for today’s blog post - parents monitoring their children’s music - and thought it was an interesting perspective to write about to address this topic.  Proverbs 22:6 states that we parents are to, “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The subject about offensive music came up recently after a close friend of mine attended an exercise class at a sports facility in a large urban area.  Music videos were shown as part of the exercise experience.  My friend told me that the young instructor bragged about how her mother often attended her classes.  Unfortunately, my friend did not have a good experience - she was not only shocked by the extremely vulgar words in the songs, but also the dance moves in the videos.  Repeated curse words as well as sexually explicit language and dance moves were a part of almost every song.  As it turned out, the instructor’s mother did not attend class that day.   My friend commented that she believed the instructor’s mother would have been highly offended and embarrassed by the music had she been there.  She also questioned whether the instructor would have played these music videos with her mother there and sighed in relief that no men attended the class that day because she said she, as a woman, would have been embarrassed.

There can be no dispute that much of the musical lyrics today is filled with vulgar and sexually explicit language- especially in certain genres.  What should Christian parents do?  Parents must be vigilant, as they play a very important role in deciding what music their children listen to when at home.   I’m a firm believer that when children are in your home, they should abide by your rules.  Of course, teenagers especially will complain about peer pressure and fitting in with their friends.   But, you must set parameters and train up your child as you feel is right and godly.

I don’t believe that any parent would even consider allowing his child to have in the home any literature or videos promoting racism, pornography, or violence against women, for example.  So why would a Christian parent allow his child to have music that is laced with vulgarity and sexual explicitness?  Plain and simple – that type of music should not be accepted.

Talk with your children and explain why you are setting boundaries.  And, importantly, ask them whether they would play that type of music if you were sitting in the car with them or talking with them in their bedroom?  If they believe that a song would be offensive to you as a parent, then it should be offensive to them too!

Be Very Mindful of How You Speak to Your Children – Part 2

This blog post is part 2 of how we as parents should speak to our children. Part 1 can be found here. I love what this quote from Brooke Hampton says as to how we should speak to them – “as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth ….”  And then, based on what we say to them, their belief system in themselves is being created: “what they believe is what they will become.”

Proverbs 23:7 says that “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  A child often believes or thinks what he has been told, whether it is the truth or not.

As parents, we develop in our children what they will think about themselves.  If we notice and react to our children’s faults right away and then criticize or punish them, we are developing in our children the tendency to be critical about themselves.  Make a commitment to change that.  Actively look for what your children are doing right each day and praise them for it.  When the time comes that you will have to deal with something that they did that was unacceptable, the positive words will outweigh the negative ones.

When you are speaking words of kindness, encouragement, and love, make a point of stopping what you are doing and focus on them.  Have them stop what they are doing too.  Get their attention.  After speaking these words, observe what happens to their demeanor.  They will light up!  It’s as if the most important person in the world (well you are to them) truly believed in them. What could be more important?

Ask yourselves: aren’t your children, in fact, the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth to you?The answer is clearly “yes”.So let’s speak to them as they deserve to be spoken to!

Should Your Children Do Chores and Be Paid?

Maintaining a house with children requires that work be done on a daily basis.  The debate continues as to whether our children should be doing household chores and if they do, should they be paid.  I’m a firm believer in children contributing to the household by helping with chores as well as giving them an allowance as some sort of compensation for doing those chores.  What I would like to do in this blog is discuss both sides of the debate and let you come up with your own conclusions – of course, with some bias on my part.

People who take the position that children should not be required to do chores focus their arguments on two main points.  First, they argue that children should enjoy their time during their tender years and be free to play and grow up without a lot of demands being made on them.  Second, they assert that children have homework and other everyday demands on their lives and adding chores on top of their already filled schedules would be too overbearing for them.

On the other hand, people who favor having children do chores argue that chores teach children to be responsible and disciplined, as well as to develop important life skills.  Also, it is argued that children who do chores actively contribute to the household rather than expecting someone else to do things for them.

As I mentioned, I am a proponent of having children do household chores.  They are part of the family unit and as such, benefit from all the fun and good times we have and should also participate in the tasks that need to be done to keep a household functioning well.   Of course, the chores should be age appropriate and parents should encourage children to do them rather than complain and criticize them.  I know that many times that it can be difficult for parents not to nag, especially if you have a recalcitrant or procrastinating child, but there are many helpful articles online that can assist parents in finding solutions to these issues.

If you decide to have your children do chores, should you give your children  allowances or otherwise pay them for doing chores?  Many experts do not believe that young children should be paid because they are not motivated by money.  However, older children are indeed motivated to earn spending money.   Payment for chores is likely to ensure that the chores get done. 

Here are some helpful online articles:

Passing on Good Values

A friend of mine told me about the non-profit organization Foundation for a Better Life and its website www.passiton.com and I wanted to pass on what I have found and learned.   I believe it will be very helpful to parents and children in learning about and promoting good values.

The Foundation is dedicated to passing on good values in our communities through public service campaigns.  Various means of communicating positive values are used such as through videos, billboards, radio messages, and the internet.  Additionally, if you are looking for an inspirational quote, one page on its website is dedicated to that as well.  No matter how you may be feeling, there is an inspirational quote for you to help brighten your day.

A quote from its website explains its mission: “The goal of The Foundation for a Better Life is to offer inspirational messages to people everywhere as a contribution toward promoting good values, good role models and a better life.”  I can’t tell you enough about how impressed I am with this organization and all that it is doing.  Please spend some time on its website – you will not be disappointed!

Is There Such a Thing as a Fun and Wholesome Party for Teens?

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
— Matthew 5:13-16

As a parent of two sons who are now adults,  I understand the dilemma that Christian parents are in when it comes to allowing their teenage children to throw parties.  I am a strong proponent of offering our children alternatives, always remembering that we are called to be the salt and the light where ever we are. 

What does it mean when Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth?  Salt has been used for centuries as a preservative for food.  As Christians, we are called to be preservatives of men – to show the world what it means to live a godly life.  Also, salt enhances the taste of food.  We are called to be influencers in the world. 

What does it mean when we are called the light of the world? We are to have our lives shine forth as examples of what it is to be believers and followers of Christ.  We are not to conform ourselves to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds.  Romans 12:2.  We are to set the examples!

How do these scripture verses relate to teenagers and parties?  In many different ways.  As I mentioned in the introductory paragraph, I am a proponent of offering our children alternatives.  When it comes to throwing parties, we should encourage our children to do so in godly ways, always being mindful that we are the salt and light of the world.  So, instead of discouraging them from parties, consider the impact of a wholesome party on all those in attendance.

Teens can have a great time in a wholesome environment but it takes a lot of planning.  Remember that at this age, they are social beings and love to have fun and interact.  Of course, food is critical.  Have a variety of  delicious snacks available.  Even consider an ethnic theme.  For example, I found Mexican food easy to cook and a hit with teens.  Instead of offering alcoholic beverages, have other choices, such as a tasty punch.  Teens love to play games, so have your children search the web for fun games to play.  They know what games they and their friends would like to play – do not force them to play a game that they do not want to. 

Your goal should be to make such an impression on the teens that they will realize that wholesome parties can, indeed, be a lot of fun and want to throw more.  Support your teens to be the salt and light of the world!

Websites where you can find great suggestions for games for wholesome parties:

Gaining Respect by Displaying Exemplary Behavior

The idea of respecting parents and other elders is practically engraved into the minds of all children everywhere from a very young age.  It is certainly important that they know to respect those around them, but it can be hard to put into practice when they are not being shown the respect they too deserve. Yes, deserve! Just as adults deserve politeness and deference, so do children.  Respecting children not only shows them how to treat other people, but it also increases their confidence and self-esteem.

Respect should be given out of love and not just as a result of an adult’s power. Punishments or bribes should never be the driving force behind obtaining your children’s respect.  Each person has value, whether young or old, and respect should be extended in recognition of that value.  Children deserve as much respect as adults because they are valued in the eyes of God.

1 Timothy 4:12 speaks of a message given to Timothy from his mentor, the Apostle Paul.  It was about setting an example for those around him by his maturity of speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Timothy was a young church leader at the time and his youth may have caused some in the church to deem him imprudent.  That is why this message was so significant.  While we cannot be completely clear as to what these people thought of Timothy, we do know that it was important for him to understand how God had called him to present himself as a dedicated follower of Christ and a leader.

Though children and adults alike should regard one another with esteem, this verse discusses certain attributes to be found in young people that build respect:

  • Children are to speak positive words into the lives of others, praise God, and express gratitude for their blessings. That positivity should also extend into their actions.  Negative or curse words do not bring glory to God or establish that the person speaking them is mature.

  • Volunteering for church events and following through on commitments are examples of the conduct of an exemplary child.

  • The described ‘purity’ extends to spiritual purity as well as physical. Do they mean well in all their actions? Is their faith in God strong? The answer to these (and similar) questions should be “yes”.

Just as Paul advised his protégé Timothy, God wants the same from your children. He wants them to know that regardless of their age, they are worthy of respect.  Importantly, they are to carry themselves in a way that is pleasing unto Him and as they do so, they will gain more and more respect from those around them.

What is Wisdom?

Just what is wisdom?  Many people think that wisdom and knowledge mean the same and can be used interchangeably.  But that is not accurate.

Wisdom begins when we fear the Lord.   Proverbs 9:10 states "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."   The word fear in this scripture does not mean that we are to be afraid of God – for example, if we do something that is wrong, it does not mean then He will strike us with lightning. 

It means instead that we are to love, honor and respect God.   In order to have wisdom, we must love, honor and respect God.  When we do, we walk in obedience to what God says we should do and say.

Proverbs 2:6 states that “the Lord gives wisdom & out of His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”  When the Lord speaks, there is knowledge given to us.  And, this has knowledge been written down in the Bible.  The Bible is God’s Word.    As a result, reading the Bible - learning what the Lord has said - will give us knowledge.

Knowledge is also gained by learning and studying.  When we go to school, if we want to earn good grades, we read and study.  In other words, we gain knowledge, whether that knowledge is in geography, science or math for example.  So all our knowledge is in our heads – facts & information that we have collected over many, many years.

But how do we get wisdom?  As I mentioned, Proverbs 2:6 states that God gives us wisdom.  In other words, as we study the Bible and gain knowledge, God gives us the inside explanation of what His Word really means.  He gives us the inside ability and direction to figure things out – not using our natural minds, but being led by Him. 

The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once wrote:

“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.  To know is not to be wise.  Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it.  There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

A person can have a lot of knowledge but not have the wisdom of God.   James 3:17 states: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

How then do we get wisdom? It comes from heaven or God.  According to James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”   You might say to yourself – Is it that simple to get wisdom? Just ask God?  Yes, but of course you have to believe that God will give it to you.  You must have faith!